CAT Exam Pattern

Updated on
May 4, 2020

CAT 2020 Exam Pattern: Overall & Sectional Composition, Scoring pattern, Weightage, CAT Vs other exams   
CAT exam pattern keeps on getting revamped after each CAT exam. After the major transformation of going green in 2009, CAT exam structure and pattern has been revised number of times in terms of number of sections, number of questions, time duration, difficulty level, type of questions, scoring pattern and testing window.  Since 2015, CAT exam pattern has stabilized to a great extent. The exam is also now held in a single day in two slots.

 

CAT 2020 exam date is November 29, 2020. Number of applicants in CAT has gone up to 2.44 lakhs last year from 1.95 lakhs in 2013. You will get complete details here about the revised exam pattern of CAT 2020, its sectional composition, scoring pattern, past trends in CAT exam pattern and other key information. MBAUniverse.com has also provided past CAT papers and model papers as per exact CAT test paper to help you assess your preparation. You can attempt each of these papers free of cost

 

CAT Exam 2020: As per Revised Pattern
IIM Indore is expected to conduct CAT 2020 as a computer based test. As per the revised pattern, CAT 2020 will have 100 questions divided into 3 sections – VARC, DILR and Quant. Each section is timed with the individual time limit of 1 hour. You need to ensure high score in each of the three sections as there is also a sectional score cut off in IIMs for shortlisting. It will be a computer based test of 3 hours duration in Morning and afternoon slots.

 

CAT 2020 Exam Pattern: Key Features

  • CAT is a computer based exam, but it is not an online exam. (Why so? Read on..)
  • CAT 2020 Exam duration is 3 hours (180 minutes)
  • CAT exam 2020 will be conducted in two separate sessions-Morning and Afternoon
  • CAT 2020 Exam will have 100 Questions divided into MCQs and Non-MCQ type questions
  • Exam is Divided into three sections: VARC (34 questions); DILR (32 questions); Quant (34 questions)
  • MCQs have negative marking for wrong answer and Non-MCQs do not carry penalty of negative marking
  • Questions with negative marking (MCQs): 70 to 75
  • You need to choose & click on correct answer out of 4 answer options for MCQ type questions
  • Questions without negative marking (Non-MCQs): 25 to 30
  • Answer must be typed in the given space on computer screen for Non-MCQ.
  • Score awarded for each correct answer: 3 marks
  • Negative marking (Applicable for  wrong answers in MCQs): -1 mark
  • Fixed order of sections to move beginning with VARC
  • Time to attempt each section is one hour. You cannot move to other section during this one hour 
  • Attempt CAT Mock Tests, CAT Sample Papers, Previous CAT Test Papers prepared by MBAUniverse.com to check pattern of CAT Exam 2020 and to  check your preparation level
  • IIMs will release tutorial to understand the format of CAT 2020 Test and question pattern on the CAT 2020 website around Oct 16-17, 2020
  • CAT 2020 exam will be held in more than 150 test cities across the country

CAT Pattern

 

CAT 2020 pattern: Sectional composition
The table below shares the CAT exam sectional order from Section-1 to Section-3, number and type of questions in each section, questions with and without negative marking and total maximum marks available for each section

Section as per CAT exam Pattern
Total questions
Total MCQs (With negative marking)
Total Non-MCQs (Without negative marking)
Total maximum marks
Section-1: Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension (VARC)
34
24 to 27
7 to 10
102
Section-2: Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning (DILR)
32
24
8
  96
Section-3: Quantitative Ability (QA)
34
23 to 27
7 to 11
102

CAT 2020: Computer Based Exam But Not Online Test
Is the CAT online test? Responding to this query IIMs respond that CAT paper pattern is computer based but CAT is NOT online test. Regarding the exam pattern of CAT, IIMs clarify “CAT is not an online exam. It is a digital or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT); that is, a candidate will not take the exam on an internet site. Instead of reading the questions in a paper booklet and darkening the ovals on the answer-sheet, a candidate will read the questions on a computer terminal and choose an answer by clicking on the correct option.”
 

So, the CAT exam pattern 2020, despite being a computer based exam, is not an online exam. Sharing the key difference and USPs of CAT exam pattern, IIMs further elaborate “In the computer-based format, the candidate reads a question on a computer terminal and clicks on the correct answer. Additionally, the timer on the computer screen tells you the remaining time to complete the current section.”

 

Section Wise Exam Pattern For CAT 2020: Sections, sub-sections, Expected difficulty level
CAT exam was totally revamped by IIM Ahmedabad in 2015 and since then CAT has followed the same pattern for all the 3 sections. The section wise key features of CAT 2020 sectional exam pattern are:

 

VARC: 1st section

  • Total questions: 34
  • MCQs: 24 to 27
  • Non-MCQs: 7 to 10
  • RC passages: 5
  • RC Based questions (All MCQs): 24
  • VA questions (Mix of MCQs & non-MCQs): 10
  • LOD: Moderate to Very difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • No Grammar or vocabulary based questions in CAT 2020
  • Verbal Ability questions confined to 3 topics – Jumbled paragraph; Para summary; picking the odd sentence out of the jumbled sentences

DILR: 2nd section

  • Total questions: 32
  • MCQs: 28
  • Non-MCQs: 8
  • Share of DI questions: 16
  • Share of LR questions: 16
  • LoD: Moderate to difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • Questions appear in set of 4
  • Time crunch is faced by test takers as questions are more time consuming

Quant: 3rd section

  • Total questions: 34
  • MCQs: 23 to 27
  • Non-MCQs: 7 to 11
  • LoD: Moderate to difficult
  • Section Highlights:
  • More questions are on Arithmetic – Percentage, Profit & Loss, Time & speed, Work/days, Compound interest

Sub-Sections in CAT Exam
There are sub sections within the 3 sections in revised pattern for CAT exam 2020. For example, the revamped VARC section in CAT consists of Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension sub sections; DILR contains questions on Data Interpretation and Logical reasoning.

 

8 Key Facts about CAT Exam 2020

  1. CAT Test takers cannot leave their seats during the exam.
  2. There may not be any answer choices for Non-MCQs in revised pattern of CAT 2020
  3. Each correct answer in CAT exam will be awarded 3 marks whether it is MCQ or Non-MCQ
  4. CAT remains on the lines of CAT official Mock test released by IIMs a month before the CAT exam.
  5. A few days before CAT 2020 exam date, IIMs release CAT exam day guide, key features of CAT exam, CAT exam navigation guide to answer MCQ and Non-MCQ questions with important instructions
  6. CAT Test Day Workflow for Candidates for slot-1 and slot-2 CAT exam is published on official CAT website by IIMs.
  7. IIMs also release the CAT exam day important Do’s and Don’ts. It includes how to get ready for CAT exam day, and how to go through the key activities from the time of entering the CAT exam centre to leaving the testing hall.
  8. No candidate is allowed to wear jackets, jewellery, shoes, watch or carry the mobile phone, bag, wallets, electronic gadgets, stationary items inside the CAT testing hall.  

CAT Vs Other Top MBA Entrance Exams: Comparative Analysis

 

CAT 2020 Vs XAT 2021
IIM CAT 2020 and XAT 2021 have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below

Component
 IIM CAT 2020
XLRI - XAT
Total questions
100
100
Overall time limit to attempt the exam
 3 hours
3½ hours
Type of questions
72-75 questions are MCQs, rest Non-MCQs
97 (1 is essay writing test)
Answer options for each MCQ
4
5
Marks awarded for each correct answer
3
1
Negative marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs
72 MCQs with 1/4 negative marking; No negative marking for 25 MCQs and Essay writing test
Exam difficulty level
Comparatively high
High
Number of sections
3
3 (Main sections)
2 (GK & Essay score not counted)
Name of section-1 with number of questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension- 34
English Language & Logical Reasoning- 24
Name of Section-2 with number of questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning -32
Quantitative Ability & Data Interpretation- 27
Name of Section-3 with number of questions
Quantitative Ability-34
Decision Making-21
Facility to choose order of sections
No, has to follow pre defined sectional order
Any question from any section within overall time limit
Individual Sectional time limit
Each section with 1 hour time limit
No
Top MBA colleges accepting exam score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IITs, XIMB
XLRI, SPJIMR, IMT, TAPMI, XIMB

CAT 2020 Vs NMAT 2020
IIM CAT 2020 and NMAT by GMAC have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below:

Component
 IIM CAT 2020
NMAT Exam Pattern 2020
Total questions
100
120
Overall time limit to attempt the exam
 3 hours
 2 hours
Type of questions
72-75 questions are MCQs, rest Non-MCQs
All MCQs
Answer options for MCQs
4
5
Marks awarded for each correct answer
3
1
Negative marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs
No negative marking
Exam difficulty level
Comparatively high
Moderate
Number of sections
3
3
Name of section-1 with number of questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension- 34
Language Skills-32
Name of Section-2 with number of questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning -32
Logical Reasoning-40
Name of Section-3 with number of questions
Quantitative Ability-34
Quantitative Skills-48
Facility to choose order of sections
No, has to follow pre defined sectional order
Yes, but once chosen has to follow
Individual Sectional time limit
Each section with 1 hour time limit
Yes, varying time limit of 22 minutes to 60 minutes
Top MBA colleges accepting exam score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IITs, XIMB
NMIMS, VIT, XIMB

CAT 2020 Vs SNAP 2020
CAT 2020 and SNAP have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below

Component
IIMs CAT 2020
SNAP 2020
Total Questions
100
115
Overall Time Limit to Attempt the Exam
 3 hours
 2 hours
Type of Questions
72-75 MCQs,
110 MCQs
25-28 Non-MCQs
   5 Non-MCQs
Answer Options for MCQs
4
 4
Marks Awarded for each Correct Answer
3 for All questions
 1 to 1.5 for MCQs
 
 2 for Non MCQs
Negative Marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking;
25% for all questions
No negative marking for Non-MCQs
25% for Special questions (Non MCQs)
Exam Difficulty Level
Difficult
Moderate
Number of Sections
3
4
Section-1: Name and Number of Questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension- 34
General English, RC,VR,VA-30
Section-2: Name and Number of Questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning -32
Analytical & Logical Reasoning-30
Section-3: Name and Number of Questions
Quantitative Ability-34
Quant, DI, Data Sufficiency-35
Section-4: Name and Number of Questions
Not Applicable, only 3 Sections
Current Affairs-20
Facility to Choose Order of Sections
No, has to follow pre defined sectional order
Yes, any question from any section within overall time limit
Individual Sectional Time Limit
Each section with 1 hour time limit
No
Top MBA Colleges Accepting Exam Score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB and hundreds of other B-schools. Read More
SIBM Pune, SCMHRD Pune, SIIB Pune, SIBM Bangalore & all other Symbiosis institutes. Read More

IIMs CAT Vs MAT
CAT 2020 and MAT have many similarities which give the opportunity to the candidates to synchronise their sectional and overall exam preparation. A comparative analysis between both the exams is shared below

Component
 IIM CAT 2020
MAT
Total Questions
100
200
Overall Time Limit to Attempt the Exam
 3 hours
 2½ hours
Question Format
72-75 questions are MCQs, rest Non-MCQs
All MCQs
Answer Options for MCQs
4
 4
Marks Awarded for Each Correct Answer
3
 1
Negative Marking
MCQs with 1/3 negative marking; No negative marking for Non-MCQs
0.25 mark
Exam Difficulty Level
Difficult
Easy to Moderate
Number of Sections
3
5
Section-1: Name and Number of Questions
Verbal Ability & Reading Comprehension: 34
Language Comprehension: 40
Section-2: Name and Number of questions
Data Interpretation & Logical Reasoning -32
Intelligence & Critical Reasoning: 40
Section-3: Name and Number of Questions
Quantitative Ability-34
Data Analysis & Sufficiency: 40
Section-4: Name and Number of Questions
Not Applicable
Mathematical Skills: 40
Section-5: Name and Number of Questions
Not Applicable
Indian & Global Environment: 40
Facility to Choose Order of Sections
No, should follow pre defined sectional order
Yes, any section/question within overall time limit
Individual Sectional time limit
Yes, each section with 1 hour time limit
No, Candidate to complete the test in 150 minutes
Top MBA colleges accepting exam score
20 IIMs, FMS, MDI, NITIE, SPJIMR, IMI, IMT, IITs, TAPMI, XIMB and hundreds of others
Christ University, NDIM, DSIMS, IPE, IESMCRC, FIIB among 600 MBA colleges

CAT Exam: Key Trends since Computerization
CAT Exam over the past 10 years, since it was computerised in 2009, has gone for perceptible changes. CAT paper pattern prior to 2009 was paper-pen based. CAT exam format was changed from paper based exam to CAT computer based test in 2009. Even after that CAT paper pattern continued changing from 3 sections to 2 and then CAT exam again switched to 3 sections in 2015. Since then CAT is following similar pattern. CAT 2020 also remains the same as that of last year CAT exam with 3 sections and 3 hours time although the number of MCQs and Non-MCQs may change.

Year
Total No of Qs
VA 
DI-LR
Quant
Difficulty level
Q break up
CAT 2020 (Expected)
100
VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
QA-Total-34. MCQs 23, Non-MCQs-10
Moderate to High
CAT 2020 is expected on last year pattern. Grammar & Vocab based questions can be re-introduced
CAT 2019
100
VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
QA-Total-34. MCQs 23, Non-MCQs-11
Moderate to High
CAT on last year pattern with changes in number of MCQs & non-MCQs as given section wise
CAT 2018
100
VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (2 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Total-34. MCQs 22, Non-MCQs-12
Moderate to High
CAT Pattern in the lines of last year with changes in number of MCQs & non-MCQs in each section
CAT 2017
100
VARC-34. RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (3 MCQs, 7 non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Total-34. MCQs 23, Non-MCQs-11
Moderate
CAT Pattern in the lines of last year with changes in non-MCQs in each section
CAT 2016
100
VARC-34, RC-24, (All MCQs), Verbal-10 (All non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Quant-34, MCQ-27, Non-MCQs-7
Moderate to difficult
CAT exam pattern on the same lines as of CAT exam pattern 2015 Non-MCQs in Quant reduced.
CAT 2015
100
VARC -34, RC-24 (MCQs), Verbal-10 (Non MCQs)
DILR-32, DI-16, LR-16, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-8
Quant-34, MCQs-24, Non-MCQs-10
Moderate to difficult
Time limit increased to 180 minutes; Sectional time constration of 1 hour re-introduced; Non-MCQs without negative marking penalty for wrong answer No questions on error correction and vocabulary.

Will CAT 2020 be Different?
CAT exam pattern may carry slight changes for CAT 2020. The exam has gone with perceptible changes since 2014 not only in CAT structure but also in content.

 

Going by the tradition in changes in different type of questions in CAT, you cannot rule out a different CAT 2020 Exam pattern.  However, despite number of changes brought about during last 5 years in CAT exam, the basics of the CAT exam have not changed. CAT exam pattern since 2015 has remained on the same lines.

 

CAT 2019 exam was also on expected pattern without any surprises. However, there could be some minor changes in number and type of questions and their sectional composition.  To make sure to bell the CAT 2020 with high score you need to begin your CAT exam preparation 2020 without waiting any longer.

 

FAQs on CAT Exam Pattern

 

Q. What is CAT 2020 Exam Pattern

Ans. CAT 2020 is a computer based test with 100 questions divided into 3 sections of VARC, DILR and QA

 

Q. What is the CAT 2020 exam date?

A. CAT 2020 will be held on November 29, 2020 in two slots morning and evening

 

Q. Is CAT an online examination?

A. CAT is not an online examination. It is a digital or Computer Based Test (CBT); not an Internet-Based Test (IBT). A candidate will not take the examination on an internet site.

 

Q. During this Corona virus pandemic and lock down will IIMs allow to take the examination from any computer?

A. The decision will be taken at the appropriate time after reviewing the situation. However, so far the candidates have taken the examination on a workstation assigned at the test centre based on the test cities selected while registering for CAT. The test centre details are printed on the Admit Card.

 

Q. Will IIMs provide some model test to understand CAT exam pattern?

A. Yes, a practice test will be available on the CAT website: www.iimcat.ac.in  in the end of October 2020. You can familiarize yourself with the functionality and navigation of the actual exam.

 

Q. How many sections are there in CAT 2020?

CAT 2020 will have three sections:

  • Section I: Verbal Ability and Reading Comprehension
  • Section II: Data Interpretation and Logical Reasoning
  • Section III: Quantitative Ability

Q. Do the non-MCQ type questions carry equal marks as MCQs?

A. Yes, all questions carry equal marks. However, for non-MCQ type questions, you must type the answer.

 

Q. Can I bring a calculator to the CAT exam centre?

A. No, Candidates are prohibited from bringing calculators to the testing centre. You may use the onscreen calculator that will be available throughout the exam.

 

Q. How many non-MCQs are there in each section?

A. IIMs do not disclose the number of NON-MCQ questions. They may vary from section to section from year to year.

 

Q. Is there a specific order for answering sections? Can I attempt sections the way I want?

A. Yes, you must answer the sections in a pre-specified order and this order will remain the same for all the candidates.

 

Read More: CAT 2020- Exam Date, Registration, Syllabus, Preparation, Books

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